Union Will Not Back Labour

A new union, set up by the merger of the National Union of Sheet Metal Workers and Coppersmiths (50,000) and the Heating and Domestic Engineers Union (26,000), voted by 9,506 to 6,003 not to have a political fund—a blow against Labour as the Sheet Metal Workers had previously been affiliated.

Labour party General Secretary Len Williams was reported as saying:

It was a matter of regret that the newly formed union should have balloted against setting up a political fund especially since the members voting were such a small proportion of the total (Evening News, 15 March 1968)

Since the minority would have been the active unionists the result is even more significant. Williams was just being a hypocrite. He would not have complained about the low poll if the vote had gone the other way. Besides the whole contracting-out fiddle to milk unions for the Labour party is based on apathy, on the hope that the ordinary union member will not take the trouble to sign the form merely to save a penny or two a week. Contracting-out and disaffiliation is one way in which workers can hit back at the anti-working class actions of the Labour Party government. The 12,000 strong National Society of Pottery Workers has set a good example in disaffiliating in February last year, when the Labour government issued an Order banning a wage increase for some of its members.